SOLVED: Access point decision for home


#1

I just replaced my router with a new Balance One Core. Setting it up, including VLANs, was an absolute breeze. Now I need to decide on one or more access points.

No doubt, a site survey is the gold standard, but I am interested in just their general characteristics at the moment.

I want as much power as I can get for an indoor unit to cover my fairly large 3 floor home (including the basement), which leads me to believe that my best choice is either the Enterprise or the Rugged. I am not likely to do a ceiling install, at least for now, so the Rugged looked like the best option…until I looked at the vertical radiation patterns:

https://forum.peplink.com/t/radiation-patterns/8109?source_topic_id=11002

@Alan - If I am reading those charts correctly, I’ll get much more consistent vertical coverage with an Enterprise. Is that assumption correct?

I am not opposed to buying more than one, but one for each floor of the my house is a bit steep. Thus, I am planning to start with one, see how it works out, and then only pick up a second if needed.

So, in general, am I correct - is the Enterprise a better choice than the Rugged to pick up as much vertical coverage as possible? Or should I just wait until Peplink fixes the dropped connection issues with the Minis and then pick up three of them - one for each floor? Seems like they are trying, but not there yet.

Thanks!


#2

Anyone? Bueller?

:wink:


#3

Hi Steve,

Ferris isn’t here right now, but I’ll try my best to help you out as best as I can.

I used to work for a company that also supplies WiFi solutions and other technical solutions, besides cellular routers.
In the 4 years that I worked there, I’ve had many cases where using multiple WiFi accesspoints in a house was simply inevitable.
Mostly because there’s much more interference these days, not only from other WiFi signals, but also from the materials used to build houses (lots of metal in the concrete ceilings/floors).

Besides that, your WiFi devices need to be able to talk back to the WiFi accesspoint(s), since WiFi is two-way communication.
WiFi devices aren’t exactly powerful transmitters, since there isn’t much room for a powerful transmitter in a mobile phone for example.
Mobile phones have a range of approximately 50 metres in an ideal environment, a house certainly not an ideal environment.
It’s almost like shouting to someone on the other end of the street, while the other person whispers back.

My advice would be to use at least two WiFi accesspoints in your case, one of the top floor and one on the ground floor.
This would give you a bigger chance of succes, while trying to save money.
I’m not saying there’s no chance it won’t work with just one WiFi accesspoint, but the chances it will work like intended will be very slim.
If you really want to start testing with one WiFi accesspoint, place it on the middle floor of the house.

@TK_Liew/@sitloongs, could one of you answer Steve’s question about the vertical coverage of the Pepwave AP One Enterprise compared to the other AP One models?


#4

Thanks much Joey. Great points.

I have three Wireless-G Access points now, but one of them is dedicated to guest access. The other two are for my trusted clients - one located in my basement and one located on the top floor of my house. That coverage seems decent, but I hate having to dedicate each access point to a specific VLAN.

I would really like to upgrade them to a current generation wireless standard with one or more APs that can tag VLANs based on SSID, so I can reduce the number of access points and the associated management burden. It would be even better if they could be peplink devices so their management could be integrated into a single dashboard along with my router.

I think two or perhaps three Minis would be great, but given the current dropped connection issues, I’m a bit confused about what direction to go in. The AP One Enterprise and the Rugged seem like a bit of overkill for home use, especially if I end up having to buy two or three of them. Hence, my question about vertical coverage.

Thanks again. Much appreciated.


#5

No problem, happy to help.

Yes, I agree that two, preferably three, AP One Mini’s would be great for your case.
I also agree with your standpoint on the dropped connection issues.

Where are you located?
We are based in Europe, The Netherlands, to be exact.

In cases like this I just send some test units for free for 14-30 days and let the hardware prove itself.
Have you tried contacting a local Peplink partner for some AP One Enterprise units for testing?
In my experience, the Peplink distributor we use mostly has some demo units in stock that are available for testing.


#6

I have a 4 story house that is approx 2200 sq ft. I live in an urban area with a ton of interference. This has been my experience and what I ended up having to do…

I started off with 3 AP. They were the AP One Mini’s. Had a lot of coverage issues plus devices would not hand off so nicely between APs. Part of that has to do with the devices but part of it (I believe) is also Peplink related. I’ve tweaked some of the CTS settings to make it better but I would not consider it ideal.

Then - I ran into several devices that just didn’t support a mesh network with multiple APs broadcasting an SSID. Most of these devices end up being IOT type of devices. Ring Doorbell, Kuna Lights, Joule from ChefSteps to name a few. I put in a feature request to allow the AP Standard edition to have Profiles like the Pro edition does. This would allow me to setup an SSID assigned to a single AP (as opposed to all) to get around the problem. You cannot do this at present with the “Standard Edition.”

My final solution…

Purchase 2 Enterprise APs. Placed those on the 2nd and 3rd Floor. Those APs are managed by my Balance One. Repurposed 2 of the AP One Minis for my devices that need a single AP/dedicated SSID. Place one on the 1st floor and 1 on the 4th. Each has it’s own SSID. These devices are NOT being managed by the Balance One since doing so would not allow me to dedicate an SSID. :frowning: So far it works even though it isn’t ideal. The 2 Enterprise APs have much better coverage and I find the amount of handing off between the devices reduced which has really helped.

YMMV - just one person’s view.


#7

@Joey_van_der_Gaag

Thanks again Joey. I am in the US, so I submitted the question to a major US-based reseller who also actively participates on this board - 3GStore. I am hoping to hear back. @Michael_Ginsberg

@Ryan_Finger

Great info Ryan. Thanks to you as well. I also have quite a few IoT devices (e.g., 5 Amazon Echos, 10 TP Link smart plugs), so that info is VERY interesting. Seems like either the AP One Enterprise or the Rugged is the way to go if I want Peplink APs…and that I may need at least 2. Ouch. That direction is pricey for residential use. I’ll need to think about that. I was hoping to avoid going with another vendor because the integrated management looks great, but I also am not enthusiastic about spending $1000 US on APs to replace (admittedly dated) APs that are working fairly well.

And if I am reading those radiation patterns correctly, the Rugged is not a great option unless I want to buy one for each floor.


#8

We’ve got your message via our ticket system and will be reaching out to Peplink for more information. Hopefully they can jump in on this thread, but we’ll see if they have any additional details on the antenna pattern and vertical coverage.


#9

Thanks much Kevin. I received your prompt and thoughtful reply via email. Much appreciated.

For folks in the US - 3GStore rocks. If you shop on Amazon, make sure the vendor is 3GStore.


#10

@scuba_steve, @Joey_van_der_Gaag, please find the AP coverage comparison below. Please take note, wireless survey is needed to determine how many APs are needed for the environment.


#11

Thanks, but I don’t see the answer to my question there. That page has a metric for unobstructed line of sight, but I was asking specifically about vertical coverage differences between the AP One and the Rugged.

The radiation patterns @Alan posted back in January show distinctly different vertical coverage patterns for the AP One and the Rugged, listed as Dual-Band Wi-Fi Antenna on that page:

https://forum.peplink.com/t/radiation-patterns/8109?source_topic_id=11002

My current inference is that the Rugged’s vertical radiation pattern has many distict lobes with dead spots and is far less likely to give decent coverage vertically than the AP One. I was asking for confirmation of that inference.

Thanks.


#12

Well, it’s been more than a week since I posted my original question with still no definitive answer about how to interpret those radiation patterns, but the consensus seems to be that I will need more than one AP.

Given that the Mini is having serious connection issues right now, I seem to be left with the AP One and the Rugged as my options…and I cannot justify the expense of buying two or three of them for a residential install at those prices. Thus, I am probably going to bite the bullet and go with another brand, giving up the cool integrated management, which admittedly I will probably not be using much after setup.

Anyone have much luck getting Ubiquiti APs to use VLANs defined on a Balance router?


#13

Well, yes, Ubiquity will certainly do what you want. And, their integration with mobile “apps” is tighter and far more useful than Peplink’s. But what you propose to do is spend much more $$ to add Ubiquity devices (APs and controller) than it would cost you to add a Peplink AP or two. The “minis” are fine APs and I suspect you need not go “whole hog” on the higher-end models. We’ve used the minis extensively with good results. Also, we would never dedicate an AP to a single SSID unless there was a compelling reason to do so.

I might say I think you’ve been given excellent advice here by @Joey_van_der_Gaag, @Ryan_Finger and @TK_Liew .


#14

Thanks for the feedback. Nice to hear that folks have had good luck with the Minis. The thread here documenting connectivity issues is not confidence inspiring, and there seem to be quite a few complaints of dropped connections elsewhere.

I really have wanted to go with Peplink given how much more you get in terms of software and commitment to the devices after the sale. Heck, I bought a $400 Balance One instead of a $50 Edge router, so I get it. :wink:

That said, I don’t see how Ubiquiti APs would be more expensive. A rough equivalent of the AP One Enterprise seems to be the UniFi AP AC One Pro, which is $130 (US) retail and ships with a POE adapter. It’s on sale in a brick and mortar near me for even less this weekend. The AP One Enterprise is $250 and does not ship with a POE adapter, so I need to either buy one for each AP or buy a POE switch. Even if you buy a CloudKey controller ($75) you are spending less, especially if you are buying multiple APs, and you don’t need to buy a controller if you just install the software on a device in your network.

But cost isn’t really the main driver for me. No doubt, it’s a factor, but my primary goals are good coverage, solid connectivity, decent functionality, and security. Given that I am in a three floor house, good coverage also means vertical coverage, which if the devices don’t provide it, means 3 APs (one for each floor), and when I get to three AP One Es, cost starts to become a factor. :wink: Hence, my original question about interpreting the radiation patterns.

With regards to Ubiquiti’s mobile config advantage, I can see why it may convey advantage to some folks, but it really has no value to me. I lock down my devices so they are only manageable on my local (hardwired) LAN. So no points off to Peplink there for me.

BTW, I don’t plan to run just one SSID. I have four VLANs currently defined on my Balance and plan to expose three of them for wireless - trusted, guest, and IoT devices. Hence, my later question - if I define VLANs on my Balance and use the same numeric VLAN IDs when I setup SSIDs on Ubiquiti APs, will those APs tag the frames in a standard manner that the Balance will be able to associate with the VLANs defined on the Balance?

Just keeping my options open.


#15

It does.

Imo, while we can’t match Ubiquiti in terms of price (there’s a lot of factors that determine this), I believe our APs still offer good value for money ratio against other enterprise brands, in terms of quality, interface, central manageable, add-on features like social wifi and advertisement system. I myself love Ubiquiti products as well, and it’s a great combination for home deployment along with our Balance router. :wink:


#16

KV: Thought I might mention … The Ubiquity and Peplink products are “different birds” in some respects. Both make “good stuff.” However their are significant differences. The most poignant issue: Ubiquity’s lack of effective support – compared to Peplink’s which is really quite excellent.

The only areas where Peplink is a bit behind, from what we’ve seen, are (1) the utility of the mobile “apps,” and (2) the efficiency with which the APs seem to “hand off” to one another. All-in-all Peplink is the preferred solution on our end. We hope Peplink is keenly aware of the competition, however. :grinning:


#17

Hello @scuba_steve,
We have moved this post to a new updated thread


Happy to Help,
Marcus :slight_smile:


#18

Dang it Marcus, just when I had decided to go the other way. :wink:

Okay, too much analysis, not enough testing. I ordered a single AP One Enterprise from 3GStore…and a PoE switch. I’ll give it a shot.

And because no good deed goes unpunished, I may come back here for advice on how to configure it and my Balance so 1) the Balance is the central management point, and 2) the AP broadcasts 3 separate SSIDs, with each one associated with one of the VLANs defined on the Balance. I have been scanning both manuals so I think I see what I need to do, but any advice or shared best practices would be great.

Thanks again to all. :+1:


#19

I might mention: You’ll find the “linkage” between VLANs and SSIDs nicely documented in multiple posts on this forum. It’s not difficult – and it works!

And, you’ll find the Balance manages the quite AP(s) easily. Short, flat learning curve.

:smiley:


#20

I’m going to move these questions to a separate post since they are unrelated to the thread title.

Thanks to all for the advice.